Old-school butcher shops are sadly a dying breed in the United States. Those that you can still find out there, though, are true masters of meat, taking any animal in front of them and transforming them into tasty, mouthwatering cuts.
Such is the case with Claudiu Giorgioni, the owner and butcher at Goodies in the Pantry in Orange, California. His shop, which is part butchery, part boutique market, has quickly become renowned in the community for all of the custom charcuterie and masterful cuts he puts together. You request it, he'll make it — including pastrami out of whole animals.
Giorgioni, who is from Romania, makes pastrami out of just about any meat, with one of his signatures being a pork tenderloin wrapped in wild boar belly. One of the most unconventional ones he makes, though, is whole rabbit pastrami. The entire process takes a few days, but what results is a mouthwatering, aromatic meat centerpiece.
The amount of care and attention that goes into each meat Giorgioni crafts is admirable. It's all in the little details, from growing his own wild garlic to flavor his cure with to his secret spice blend. A whole small animal like a rabbit takes three to four days to cure, and it is then smoked with hickory and cherry wood for three hours. The result is a tender, ambrosial meat with a perfectly dosed punch of smoky flavor.
While you can get the rabbit served whole, Giorgioni can also make a different dishes from it. His butcher shop doubles as a lunch counter with a variety of sandwiches and specialty dishes on offer. Serving it up as a charcuterie board, complete with cheeses and other cured meats he has in store, is a solid choice. So is the rabbit fricassee, which takes various cuts of rabbit and puts them into a creamy stew with bacon and mushrooms.
Finding someone who still breaks down the whole animals, makes their own in-house charcuterie, and will cook it all up for you is hard to come by these days. Giorgioni, however, is keeping that style of artisanship alive with the butcher craft he's learned, the lunches he serves, and the meat he cures.
You can see more about Goodies in the Pantry, the rabbit pastrami, and Giorgioni himself in the above Foodbeast 'News Bites' video.